Friday, March 28, 2008

Four Score: The Benefits of Independence



Here are a few extracts from an essay of mine on the benefits of European countries maintaining their sovereignty from the anti-war magazine, The American Conservative. I'm afraid the whole article is not available on line, but only on subsciption to the magazine (which I can heartily recommend, as it's always a great read).


‘THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY”. The favourite refrain of totalitarians throughout history is now uttered by the serial globalisers who insist that membership of sovereignty-sapping bodies such as the EU and NATO and are the only options for any self-respecting European country.

If you’ve not surrendered your national sovereignty, then you’re missing out. But is this really true?

Now, it might just be a freak coincidence, but the four countries in Europe who have best preserved their national sovereignty: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Belarus-none of whom are in the EU and only two of whom are in NATO, are all doing quite
well. Much better in fact than European countries who have surrendered law-making powers.

Consider Switzerland, a country which gets a bad press from Europhiles for not wanting to join the EU, and from the serial warmongers for resolutely staying out of military conflicts. The demise of Switzerland has long been predicted. We were told that once it was forced to reduce its banking secrecy, there would be a big flow of capital and the Swiss Franc would lose its position as the world’s most secure currency. Moreover Switzerland’s high-wage economy would not be able to compete in the cut and thrust of the globalised economy. Poppycock. Switzerland stands at number six in the List of the world’s richest countries, above US, Japan and Britain. Uncompetitive? -The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness
Report currently ranks Switzerland's high-wage economy as the most competitive in the world. Growth is currently at around 3%, unemployment is only 3.3% (compared to the EU average of 7%). If Switzerland is suffering from staying out of the EU and the European Economic Area (EAA), then suffering has never been so comfortable......

Norway, like Switzerland, is thriving. In 2006, it officially became the richest country in the world, and it has reached its lofty position by doing exactly what the globalizers prescribe......

Switzerland, Belarus, Iceland and Norway all operate different economic systems. The Swiss operate a largely low tax, private enterprise economy. Iceland and Norway operate high tax, high spending welfare state models, while Belarus, in the words of its president, runs a 'socially orientated market economy'. But what all these models have in common is that they’re organic: they’ve developed in time, in accordance with national history, religion and traditions, and enjoy popular support.

By contrast, the EU is about imposing a one size- fits- all economic and social model, which takes little or no account of regional or national differences or the heritage of the countries it absorbs.

I suggested earlier that the success of the four countries might be a coincidence. Yet I don't think it is. This quartet of countries has been successful because they have managed to maintain crucial decision-making powers.

By keeping their independence, and continuing to thrive in spite of the globalizers' forecasts, they have demonstrated a truth that we should never forget.

There is ALWAYS another way.

18 comments:

Roland Hulme said...

"Switzerland, a country which gets a bad press from Europhiles for not wanting to join the EU, and from the serial warmongers for resolutely staying out of military conflicts."

Rubbish. We don't like the Swiss because they profited hugely from money laundering for the Nazis.

Their coffers are stuffed with stolen gold.

In fact, their only WWII war memorial celebrates Switzerland's only legitimate war casuality - a young man who suffered a fatal hernia from lugging too big a pile of plundered Jewish gold.

Neil Clark said...

roland: no one is defending what went on in the 1940s. Money laundering for the Nazis was terrible. But it's now 2008. To say 'we don't like the Swiss' because of what went on in the 1940s is silly- it's like saying 'we don't like the Germans' or 'we don't like the Japanese' because of what their countries did over sixty years ago.
All best,
Neil

Anonymous said...

The EU is the greatest destroyer of democracy on the planet.

jolies-couleurs said...

Neil, your fondness for Belarus is touching but we do not know whether it is a system that is genuinely popular as Mr Lukashenka refuses to offer himself to an open and fair contest.

Meanwhile, an economy that sees a good salary as $250 a month on which people scrape by is not perhaps a model to be aspired to...

My partner is from Belarus and so I have some exposure to what prevails there.

This leaves Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. One feature they all share is that they are small. I wonder if that bears a clue to their success. My late lamented friend Leopold Kohr would have thought so.

The Swiss did profit from engagement with Nazi Germany (as did Sweden) but given the choice would invasion have been a preferable option?

slapheads anonymous said...

What was that about Iceland?

Anonymous said...

Roland, there was and still is more money held in the bank Leumi than ever deposited in Swiss. Leumi has not to date paid a penny to the heirs of those accounts.
Read anything by Hilberg, he gave quite a number of substantive interviews on this subject.
Good article Neil.

Charlie Marks said...

"Mr Lukashenka refuses to offer himself to an open and fair contest."

Since he was re-elected in 2006 and no country ever gets a vote on its class structure and economic system, does this actually mean: "Mr Lukashenka refuses to stand down and be replaced by someone who will do the bidding of the US and the EU"?

Jock McTrousers said...

"Rubbish. We don't like the Swiss because they profited hugely from money laundering for the Nazis.

Their coffers are stuffed with stolen gold."

I suggest that you read Norman Finkelstein's 'the Holocaust Industry' and then get back to us on that one, and please don't tell us that Finkelstein has been 'discredited'.

" we do not know whether it is a system that is genuinely popular as Mr Lukashenka refuses to offer himself to an open and fair contest."

Says who? End of.

Jock McTrousers said...

Anyway... talking of 'the American Conservative', I've just read W. Cleon Skousen's ' the Naked Capitalist', which is a 200+ page (fairly critical) review of Carroll Quigley's ' Tragedy and Hope', A 1400 page book on 'the secret cabal that hopes to rule the world'(Bill Clinton claimed this for an influence, which may be no great recommendation), for want of a better under-30-word description. On first dipping into it, it seemed extremely reactionary, but, after some reading and attuning to his mind set, which he describes as 'American Conservatism'( Clousen was part of Barry Goldwater's team - he points out that Goldwater was seriously slandered and misrepresented by 'the Establishment'), it started to remind me of a mindset that seemed very familiar when I was a child, but which seems to have been censored out of public discourse since the 60s, and which has some coherence and validity.
It would be easy to write 'American Conservatism' off as 'reactionary', but, with a bit of an effort to understand their point of view, and to understand that their understanding of 'communism' and 'socialism' refers, not to an ideal prophesied by Marx, but to actually existing interests and their practices which go by the name, then there is a serious 'popular welfare' argument for the mindset of 'American Conservatism'. My energy is flagging now, due to the hour and the application of wine, but I hope you take up the subject of 'American Conservatism' again.

Neil Clark said...

Jock: Excellent post. The socialist left has a lot of common ground with US paleo-conservatism, such as opposition to war and imperialism and opposition to neoliberalism and the rule of money power.

Charlie: totally agreed.
Jolies: Have you read Stewart Parker's excellent new book on Belarus? He deals with the charges made by the US/EU against Lukashenko head on. The big crime of Lukashenko is, as Charlie says, refusing to surrender sovereignty to Washington and Brussels.

slapheads: the piece was written before the dramatic fall of the krona. But I'm sure that Iceland will be back on tracks very shortly, it's still a very rich and successful country, which like Norway, Switzerland and Belarus has benefited from not being in the EU, not least in regards to its fisheries policy.

jolies-couleurs said...

We will differ about the excellence of Stewart Parker's book on Belarus. It is not a question of his doing or not doing the bidding of the United States or EU.

It is a question of his doing the bidding of the people of Belarus since his regime is incapable of putting this to a open and fair electoral contest. He might actually win this contest but the election in 2006 was profoundly fraudulent. I saw the ballot stuffing myself...even when in east of the country in particular, Lukasheka was winning a majority of the votes...!

Mr.T said...

Jolies-couleurs, out of curiosity what in particular don't you like about Stewart Parkers' book?

RightDemocrat said...

Good points. Thanks for calling attention to the fact that we do have alternatives to globalization and nations can prosper without embracing it.

Roland Hulme said...

"It's like saying 'we don't like the Germans' or 'we don't like the Japanese' because of what their countries did over sixty years ago."

I sadly know plenty of people who still think like that!!

But your point is taken. I was being needlessly flippant.

Neil Clark said...

right democrat; thanks. congrats on yr very interesting blog, I've put up a link to it in this blog's link section.
All best,
Neil

Neil Clark said...

right democrat; thanks. congrats on yr very interesting blog, I've put up a link to it in this blog's link section.
All best,
Neil

RightDemocrat said...

Thanks, Neil. I just added you to my blogroll as well. Keep up the good work.
RD

Anonymous said...

The EU will go the way of previous European attempts at creating a single blanket legislative body for the whole of Europe. The EU in its early days may have been seen as just some kind of economic stimulus plan for participating countries, but it is turning into nothing more than an expansion of Western hegemony. According to the history I've read, I was under the impression that national sovereignty was to be protected following WW2 so as not to fall back into a conflict concerning who rules what. Leave it to the Western Europeans. They f-ed up colonizing Africa and look what a peaceful, prosperous continent we have.

Just a side note: The EU needs to stay the f@#$ out of Kosovo and out of Serbia's business.

G...